It was wild. It was intense. And ultimately, it was frustrating on so many levels for the Islanders to give away a two-goal third-period lead and lose to the Rangers, 6-5, Monday night at the Coliseum on Kevin Klein's goal with 4:32 to play.
The frustration wasn't just for the Islanders' own play, which sagged under the Rangers' pressure over the final 15 minutes. Josh Bailey rang a shot off the post in the final 30 seconds in one last-ditch effort to tie, snapping the Isles' four-game winning streak while extending the Rangers' streak to four, all on the road.
Chris Kreider appeared to trip Johnny Boychuk to cause a turnover and a Rangers' three-on-one that Martin St. Louis finished off for his first goal in 15 games to even the score at 5-5 with 11:58 to go.
"Unbelievable," John Tavares said. "They talk about wanting to get the call right but you don't even see them talk about it. I don't know how you think Johnny Boychuk is just going to fall down right there. We didn't handle it our best, obviously, but that was a huge play."
Tavares had the first in a series of huge plays just 11 seconds in, when Rangers goaltender Cam Talbot tried to play a dump-in and sent it right to Tavares, who snapped the puck into an open net from a sharp angle to send the sold-out crowd -- at least the portion supporting the Isles -- into an early frenzy.
The Islanders pumped 22 shots on Talbot in the opening period and opened a 2-0 lead on Frans Nielsen's rebound goal at 11:46.
Ryan McDonagh pulled the Rangers within 2-1 on a one-timer from the high slot at 14:35, just after Casey Cizikas was foiled on a breakaway that could have given the Isles a three-goal lead.
"We could've had another one there," Jack Capuano said, "but [the Rangers] came back and did what they had to do."
Boychuk clapped one from just inside the blue line past Talbot at 1:20 of the second to restore the two-goal Isles lead, but the Rangers started to generate more pressure.
Kreider snapped a wrist shot past Jaroslav Halak at 3:07 -- a goal Halak would have wanted back on a night the goalies faced 85 shots -- and McDonagh scored again just 23 seconds later, his point shot deflected past Halak by his teammate, Lubo Visnovsky.
Ryan Strome got the lead back on a rebound shot at 7:41.
But the Rangers were gathering steam. They threw six shots on Halak in the opening minutes of the third, only to have Strome extend the lead with his second of the night off a three-on-one following Dan Boyle's turnover.
"We won some battles and you saw what we could do when that happened," Tavares said. "We didn't do enough of that later in the game."
Derek Stepan scored off a nifty drop pass from Kreider to get it to 5-4 with 13:35 left, then the Boychuk play and St. Louis' goal sent a few of the Isles into a frenzy, directed at referees Brad Watson and Greg Kimmerly.
"Maybe if it's somewhere else on the ice, but you usually see a call there," Capuano said. "That was the turning point."
"Oh, yeah," Boychuk said when asked if he was tripped. "But sometimes they see them and sometimes they don't."
The Rangers poured it on after that, finally grabbing their first lead of the night when Derick Brassard intercepted a clearing attempt and his centering feed ticked off St. Louis' stick right to Klein.
"It's a lot of emotions and a lot of swings," Tavares said. "You get some chances and you start to open up a bit. That's asking too much of your goaltender and they made us pay."